1988: Nepal wins a bronze in a demonstration Olympic sport in the 1988 Olympics
By NLRC Staff, December 2015Contents
Marking Nepal's greatest achievement in the Olympic Games to date, Bidhan Lama won a medal for Nepal in a demonstration Olympic sport, which was a category of the Olympic sports featured as an addition to the official medal sports.
Lama won a bronze medal in taekwondo in the 1988 Summer Olympics, when the sport, at the time, was still a demonstration sport before becoming an official medal sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
A typical day in Kathmandu in 1988 looked very different from today's Kathmandu with fewer houses, fewer vehicles, fewer people and greener farmlands. On one such day, many were heading, mostly by walking, to the only international airport of the country. At that time, today's international terminal did not exist, and all flights were handled at the only terminal, today's domestic terminal.
With excitement and joy, they were going as close to the terminal as they could get to welcome their hero, Bidhan Lama, who was returning home after winning a medal in a demonstration Olympic sport, taekwondo.
As the plane landed, the crowd got more eager to see him. Adorned in Daura Suruwal and Topi, the traditional costume of Nepal worn by men, Lama appeared in the crowd from inside the terminal, garlands around his neck hanging alongside the medal he had recently won. "Nepal. Nepal. Bidhan Lama Jindabaad ('Long live Bidhan Lama')," many shouted as they followed the motorcade, with Lama standing in an open-top jeep.
For the crowd, it did not matter that the sport had not yet become an official medal sport at the Olympics, they only cared that a Nepali had been to the podium to receive a medal at the Olympics. They knew it was one of the greatest achievements, if not the greatest one, Nepali sports had accomplished.
Martial arts interested Lama from his early age. While he was growing up in Nepal, only the police and the army were allowed to play martial arts. Common people could play taekwondo only after early 1980s. Lama followed his passion and in the process achieved various milestones from national titles to a bronze medal in the 1987 World Taekwondo Championships.
Lama, who currently lives and teaches taekwondo in the United States, is involved in various activities promoting the sport and developing taekwondo talents in Nepal. As the chief executive of International Nepalese Taekwondo Association, he is also involved in organizing international taekwondo competitions in Nepal with the hope of providing more exposure to the Nepali players.
In an interview with a television channel in Kathmandu, Lama said, "While being away [from Nepal], the feeling to do something for Nepal and the love for Nepal were actually more." He attributed that feeling for giving him motivation to continue giving to Nepal. Lama also thought, while other countries had made progress, the sport had not made much progress lately in Nepal and hoped that political interference in the sport would stop and that the players would get access to adequate training and resources. He said, compared to his time, Nepal's overall status in the sport had declined and added, "Afghanistan started after us and they have made a huge progress; if things stay the same, it will be hard for Nepal to maintain its performance in the sport even in South Asian Games."
Lama's success has also become a source of inspiration to the Nepali community that has taken his achievement as a matter of great pride and his story continues to define one of the greatest achievements, the greatest in the Olympics, Nepali sports has seen. We hope his success will encourage and facilitate the development of a long-term program and allocation of adequate resources to take the sport to the next level. We also hope that Lama's recent efforts and support to develop the sport in Nepal will encourage many others to do the same.
Congratulations Mr. Lama on your achievement and thank you for being a role model to many. Your success story will inspire many others in the community to craft their own success stories.
References News24 Nepal. "IOD with Narayan Gurung & Bidhan Lama." Online video clip. YouTube. 13 May 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
About Success Stories
The Success Stories series features achievements by individuals or groups from or with ties to Nepal. In addition to highlighting the contributions to the society, the Success Stories series hopes to promote the inspiration these achievements provide among the community.